After a long journey across the pond, it’s time to do some tale tellin’ and share our experience with the community on what it was like, what we learned, and what we could have done differently.
The idea to have this event in Manchester started during last GenCon. I talked with Scott Wisely and Heidi Cook, our partners in hosting our major Doomtown events, about what we could so as something special for the UK player base. Their support for this game has been amazing and we wanted to show our appreciation by presenting them with the World Championship for 2018. There were two options: host it at the UK Games Expo in June, or in Manchester at FanBoy Three during what they call the holiday bank weekend. By foregoing having it at the expo, we were able to have our own mini-convention, with more affordable hotel options right near the Manchester Piccadilly station. To truly make the change to Tombstone, we wondered if it would be possible to pull off a day of Deadlands roleplaying sessions, where players would represent both new and old characters in Doomtown. As the next Doomtown set, Too Tough to Die, ended up completed before Worlds started, we were able to use printouts of card images from this set as props for the roleplaying experience, which would subsequently contribute to influencing the fiction being written to coincide with this set. This developed into also including a guest appearance by Deadlands adventure writer Owen Lean for an additional afternoon RPG session, guest fantasy artist Ralph Horsley as a vendor, and a Friday night social gathering.
Arriving to Town
While our appearance certainly wasn’t required, my wife and I wanted to make the trip to be part of this special event. Upon arrival, Scott and Heidi brought us over from the airport station to Fan Boy Three, where we took an impromptu video explaining that there would be four RPG sessions on Saturday, and that the outcome of these events would continue over into Doomtown the next day. We got to check out the new messenger bags for sale featuring the No Turning Back promo art and open a pack of There Comes A Reckoning, arriving air mail to ensure the World Championship would be proxy free. Apparently, the tiresome journey was obvious in the video, so we took some time to rest before going to what became my favorite restaurant in the city, Bundobust, an Indian street food and craft beer bar.
The next day we visited some local establishments and awaited the arrival of Doomtown players from across the globe. As someone who works more on the game now than able to play it, it was great staying up late to get in some tough games with Zachary Seldon from California and Anders Kernel and Benni Ulbrink from Denmark, running through the gauntlet of decks I brought and talking about the game after returning from a visit to Cloudwater, a great local brewery in Manchester.
Friday the RPG gamemasters (called Marshals in Deadlands) gathered to make sure our outlines had all been fleshed out and we knew what was in store for players the next day. In addition, we wanted to make sure we could explain how the epic showdowns were going to unfold in Doomtown, as 8 characters were going to perish: one from each faction through to Top 8, with increased voting in Top 4 and the Finals to result in two additional character deaths. My wife and I then joined Canadian and fellow pond skipper Max Way and his partner for dinner in town.
That evening, the Danes assisted in hosting a Gadget Social Event at Port Street Barrel House, a variant of Doomtown in which each player had at least 12 gadgets in his/her deck and only dudes with gadgets could control deeds. As the Law Dogs would clearly be ‘outscienced’ by Morgan, I gave it a go anyway by bringing a low-mid value Arsenal deck, which focused on an end game of piling up The Fabulous Mister Miss with gadgets and then invade my opponent’s home using the Arsenal call out ability to drop influence if they refused. I went with Hydro Punchers and Mechanical Horses on off suit, as they were the only other gadgets I could find that would guarantee I could make the invent pull on. I played three games against Karl Wash from the UK, with the home invasion tactic proving successful in our third game. Sadly the Law Dogs lost out 4 to 12 against Morgan overall, and Zachary took home the gadget tin prize. Players attending received some signed new Avie Cline Jokers and during every game in which ‘A Slight Modification’ was played, each player in that game would receive that promo card, newly released for Worlds. I then played another grudge match against Marshal Robert Campbell, mistakenly choosing the wrong casualties in a final shootout that resulted in Hellstromme control points giving him the game. Robert suggested I retire early for the big day tomorrow, and I heeded this wisdom to further prepare for the RPG.
30 Shots in 30 Seconds
The four games were set between October 24-26, 1881, ending on that fateful day at 2:30pm, when the Street Fight between the Earps and Clantons & McLaurys took place. But nothing is the same in Deadlands history folks, so we wanted to put on a twist on what would occur, with Wendy & Lucy meeting Virgil Earp and following through on the events that occur in Stone & A Hard Place. We had four tables and had some worry they would not be filled, but as it turned out we had a couple extra players, as everyone present wanted to participate, even though we had offered a Doomtown side event. Peter Hart from tea@Hart in Hartepool brought a Doomtown cake to help celebrate. I hosted the Law Dogs/Morgan players, Russell Smith the Soane Gang, Robert Campbell the Fourth Ring, and David Hogg the 108/Eagle Wardens.
The Law Dogs were joined by Elander Boldman and a couple new Morgan Cattle Company characters to venture off at Virgil Earp’s request to locate missing Texas Ranger Hank Ketchum, before then disarming Ike Clanton and joining the Earps in their march towards fate. The heroes found themselves though in another battle, as Janosz Pratt, Hattie DeLore, Warren Graves, and Nathan Shane had been out following up on a warrant for Barton Everest, brought in by a local gang member Larry ‘Seven’s Swift for a major heist at a high stakes game gone wrong. Meanwhile, the Eagle Wardens and 108 were investigating strange rituals in town as they went to confront a fortress belonging to Baron LaCroix, represented in the Fourth Ring session. Player Characters and Non-Player characters formed a list of 24 dudes that would be on the chopping block, as players voted the next day on what would happen during the final confrontations of these sessions. Following these games, Owen Lean ran one of his Deadlands adventures while other players joined in on a 3 round Doomtown side event. I got roped in to joining to even out the numbers, and played my old Oddities, ending 6th place with the only loss to the winner, David Hogg, running Full Moon Brotherhood control. A grand time was had by before the main event. In a venture after to a local pub, I talked with more players, including Outlaw Winner Adam Whitehouse, Paul Wadsworth that hosts the Mob Justice blog, other Davids (Woof and Avery), and several others.
The next day I got to meet even more players, including 1999 Doomtown Classic World Champion Andrew Davidson, Marshal Vince Turner, and Andrew Wroe himself, along with members of our playtest teams and various communities in the UK. It was equally great to reunite with players I previously met at GenCon and to get an autograph from the young Erin Knight! We opened packs of There Comes A Reckoning and sent some off to regions hosting Tombstone Series events so that even more tournaments and leagues could be proxy free while players await the Kickstarter shipment. New promos for the event including full bleed alternate art versions of Jael’s Guile, A Slight Modification, Point Blank, and the Morgan Cattle Company outfit. I was looking to see how many players were running ‘Calling the Cavalry,’ as this has been of some concern, but with ‘Shan Fan Showdown’ in the mix and players seeing a couple new cards in Too Tough to Die to counter the card, we wanted to see if action had to be taken. With 10 Morgan players in attendance, I also had my eye on Decimator Array, which is powerful, but gives gadgets a strong boost in the environment they may have needed. As the dust settled and deaths piled up (each player could cast a vote to save someone from his/her own faction or a vote towards the death of a character in the faction he/she opposed), we ended with a well-mixed Top 8 breakdown of different nationalities of players and different decktypes. The list can be found at http://forums.pineboxentertainment.com/t/worlds-results-standings-outfits-servitors-and-deaths/2616/17 and decklists found at http://forums.pineboxentertainment.com/t/doomtown-worlds-the-decklists/2617/10. We also announced the top two regions of Kickstarter backers, London in the UK and Portland in the US, would receive Name A Card events to run at their leisure!
In the end Max Way ended our new Marshal, with good ole fashioned Law Dogs, the only faction to have not previously won a Marshal level event/Championship!
What We Did Right:
1. The RPG Event
Having four RPG Events running simultaneous with one another from 11am-3pm was a daunting task in ensuring the events crossed over with one another but was a successful one. The major feedback we got from the weekend was that people want more of this and we endeavor to try this once again.
2. Pub Social
Scott had informed me that the social events the likes of the ones we host at GenCon are something new to the UK. Bringing everyone out the evening before we officially kicked things off was a great time had by all and if the whole point is to have fun and gather players together, we managed to achieve that.
3. Fast, Furious, Fun
Following our partners at Pinnacle and their Savage Worlds motto, the event was quite a success. People play Doomtown to have fun and take part in a truly amazing community, and with a variety of things to do on a trip across the pond, I believe we managed to make it a memorable experience for all attendees.
What We Did Wrong:
The community has asked for more videos and we failed in attempting to stream the event, something we should have tried to set up and test earlier. Luckily we caught some videos of swiss events, Top 8, and all of the Top 4 and finals, which are currently uploading to the Pine Box YouTube channel.
Keeping the story for the RPG sessions and characters listed a secret made folks at home feel distant from the event. The issue with keeping this is a surprise and the backlog of fiction owed we recognize is an issue. As the process for completing story team and meeting these demands have been worked on and the team announced during Worlds, we continued with plans for organized play. For this we apologize to our playerbase, as we understand it may have been hard to connect with these events in not being present to know what occurred. As previous fictions have been submitted for editing, the range of events that occurred at Worlds, as reflected through the fiction, will be presented on our new site dedicated to the Doomtown story, linked here: (INSERT LINK OF NEW SITE)
3. Giving Advance Notice of Events
With players that want to travel across the world, providing notice is key and we could have made the announcement of Worlds earlier. I will let you all know now that our dream is to continue to have US and UK National Events, with a Worlds Destination Event in future years. Currently we are looking into destination events for 2019 and 2020, and will be announced as soon as we can confirm the dates!
We hope everyone enjoyed the event as much as we did. Cheers to players new and old, future gatherings, and to this amazing gaming community. I hope to see many of you at the coming Origins and GenCon conventions.
Note from Alex – If you do attend one of our big events or host one of our tournament series, we would like to hear your feedback. Contact us, Lapp and I both read the email on a regular basis and we discuss everything that hits our inbox.